Return to the Wild

Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Wild Side

 

14 months later, we finally ventured back into the wild side of Halter Ranch with viticulturalist Lucas Pope and vineyard foreman Eusebio Rico as our guides.  The goal on this excursion was to document the locations of our wildlife cams to give context to the photos we’ve begun posting here and on facebook.  Additionally Lucas and Eusebio wanted to check the status of a well on the old Curran property which is part of the 1300 acre oak and wildlife preserve on the northeast end of the vineyard.

 

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Old Power Lines

 

While en route we discovered the skeleton of a wild pig, revisted the old harvester from last year’s explorations, and examined the state of flora and fauna after another distinctly dry year.  Below are some photos and thoughts from the adventure. (more…)


New Wildlife Photos

Wildlife - Halter Ranch Vineyard

That is indeed an elk.

 

An aspect of our sustainable program are the wildlife corridors kept intact by installing an extra 16000 feet of fencing when the vineyard was planted.  The corridors allow deer and other fauna to get through the vineyard to 1300 acres of oak and wildlife preserve that remain undisturbed but for the occasional exploratory trip from our staff to insure no humans are occupying the back portion of the property for sinister purpose.  Recently Lucas Pope installed wildlife cameras at 2 watering holes within the preserve.  Included here just three out of 350 photos taken by one of the two cameras over the past 6 weeks.  Most of what we have seen thus far are deer and birds, but as you can see, a few more rare and shy critters have made appearances as well.   (more…)


Holiday Preparations

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In the wake of ‘giving festivities we now embark on preparations for the rest of the holiday season.  Lights are being strung, the scent of pine sap hangs in the air, and the world seems aglow with warmth from ovens and fireplaces alike as Winter finally arrives at the ranch.  (more…)


Halter Ranch Vineyard on PBS with Original Fare

Halter Ranch Vineyard

Click the Photo to visit Original Fare

 

Original Fare is a PBS sponsored YouTube series revolving around farm to table cooking.  We were offered the privilege of hosting creators Kelly Cox and Lucas Longacre onsite for a few days while they produced the show linked to the photo above.  Beyond the fact that it provides great information about Halter Ranch, the video offers an excellent quick but complete look at the various stages and processes of harvest.  Check it out and let us know what you think on our facebook page here, Google+ here, and Twitter (@halterranch).  Also please go check out Kelly and Lucas’s Original Fare website and the PBS Food YouTube Channel.


This is the End…of Harvest 2013

On the night pick - End

 

The time has come to don our raincoats, spread straw on our roadways, and batten down the hatches for winter.  Another picking season has just passed and with the first rain we feel the slight sting of a hard earned harvest complete in concert with vast anticipation for the delicious wine that will result.  All sentiment aside, last Thursday night marked the final picking push as we near the end of Harvest 2013.  We currently have six stainless steel tanks filled with Cabernet Sauvignon undergoing primary fermentation.  All red Rhone varieties are now in barrel. Overall we brought in 460 tons of fruit from the ranch this year, selling 60 to other producers and keeping 400 tons to take through fermentation ourselves.  As a vintage 2013 looks absolutely stellar.  We were able to take all 17 varieties under cultivation to ideal ripeness without any significant rainfall or other grape-threatening weather. Keep an eye here for additional updates as we near the end of fermentation and move on to barrel ageing.

In the meantime check the rest of the post for a series of photos from this year’s pick.

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Ancestor Dinner 2013

Halter Ranch Vineyard

2011 Ancestor Estate Reserve

 

Each October we choose one evening to pause harvest and dress up the old Smith family barn for the Ancestor Release Dinner.  This past Saturday marked the presentation of the 2011 vintage with a delectible coursed meal provided by Lido.  We have made the Ancestor Estate Reserve each year since 2003 and it typically is composed of our most concentrated and expressive red lots.  The 2011 blend is 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec.  It spent 14 months in French Oak.  60% of the barrels were new and 40% had been used to age wine at least once previously.

As a vintage, 2011 is particularly exciting as it marks the first year we made wine in our new gravity fed winery with Kevin at the helm.  Due to cool weather throughout summer 2011, we made only 324 cases of this absolutely delicious wine.  As a result, it is available only to Wine Club Members at this time.

What follows is a photographic journey through the appetizers, courses, and wine at this year’s Ancestor Dinner.

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Night Picking – A Journal in Photos

Picking - Halter Ranch Vineyard

Cool Grapes

 

This is just a taste of the awesome activities we partake in late at night during harvest season.  Welcome to the latest update on our staff vineyard project.  The three teams–New Kids on Block 3, Oscar’s Grouches, 21 and Holding–have all successfully harvested their respective vineyard blocks as of this morning. (more…)


Block 11 Historical Society

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Last Thursday we harvested Block 11 Syrah which is one of two remaining blocks from the 1996 MacGillivray planting four years prior to Halter Ranch becoming Halter Ranch.  The pick began at 12:30 am on Thursday September 12 and carried on until 6 am.  12.2 tons of fruit were delivered to the upper crush pad at a temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit.  8.5 tons of Syrah from Block 11 were destemmed and combined with 1.5 tons of Viognier from Block 35 and will comprise our Syrah/Viognier coferment for 2013.  The remaining syrah clusters were destemmed and will be fermented separately.  Beyond the excitement of being one of the first red blocks to be harvested this year, 11 is special because it represents an abundance of both Paso Robles and Halter Ranch history.

In the middle of Block 11 sits the Ancestor Oak.  This ancient Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak) is one of the two largest trees of this particular variety on the planet.  Rows of vines were planted in a radius around this huge tree to twelve foot spacing.  The wider rows in this block allowed the MacGillivray family to drive their normal (as opposed to vineyard specific) tractors up and down the block.  Syrah planted to 11 is the Estrella clone which originated in the vineyard of same name on the east side of Paso Robles.  The cuttings themselves were sourced from the now famous James Berry vineyard back in 1996.  Jim Smith gave the MacGillivrays permission to take cuttings from his vines prior to pruning.  Due to the cost of rootstock and grafting, the cuttings were planted on their own roots as opposed to being grafted to new world rootstock.  A quick aside: due to the risk of soil bound pests such as phylloxera most plantings of the last century are grafted to the root portion (rootstock) of vines from the new world that has resistance to said pests and is acclimated to the soil on this side of the Atlantic.  In Block 11’s, cuttings from the established James Berry vines were not grafted, but stuck directly into the soil to sprout their own roots a testament to the vigor and enthusiasm of grapevines!

Expect to see Block 11 as one component in our core Syrah for 2013.  Given the history and high fruit quality from these 17 year old vines, this block  may eventually join the ranks of our reserve line-up alongside Ancestor, Tempranillo, Block 22 Syrah, and Block 41 Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

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Halter Ranch Vineyard – Frequent Questions

 

Thanks Madelyne! - Halter Ranch Vineyard

The Old Victorian Farmhouse from Adelaida Road

 

Every few months we tasting room and tour staff accrue a group of  questions that crop up repeatedly in our interactions at Halter Ranch.  The following post is devoted to answering the top 9 of these questions so that they are accessible in the e-sphere.  For the record, we love being asked and having the opportunity to answer questions about this wonderful place and the philosophy behind it, so please keep asking and we’ll keep doing our best to provide answers! (more…)


The Garden and Vineyard All Abuzz

 

Tempranillo - Halter Ranch Vineyard

2013 Tempranillo

 

Anticipation among the HRV crew and within the vineyard itself is palpable as we near the opening of Harvest 2013. What follow are a few photos in and about the vineyard taken by tasting room superstars Jess Warren, Kim Potvin, and Sam Flynn.  (more…)

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